Most of us love chocolate, right? How nice would it be to be given the green light to eat it everyday instead of thinking of it as a naughty treat?!
There is good news and bad news; the good news is that I’m giving you the green light to eat a little chocolate everyday! The bad news is that the chocolate I’m referring to is not the sweet treat most of us think of when we think of chocolate.
Every week there seems to be another article or report detailing the benefits of eating chocolate. Here’s the thing though. The studies exploring the links between chocolate and health benefits are not dealing with the chocolate most of us are eating. They’re focussed on the cacao beans themselves and not the highly processed chocolate widely available today.
So before we get to the good news bit, I’d like to briefly explain the different types of ‘chocolate’.
Everything we know as chocolate, in all its forms, starts at the same source: the cacao tree, native to South America.
Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume. It is thought to have the highest source of antioxidants of ALL foods AND the highest source of magnesium. Pretty amazing stuff. There are more health benefits of cacao below.
Cocoa is the product left after cacao is heat treated. Whilst the treatment process affects the nutrition value, cocoa can still offer some benefits as long as you choose a brand without added sugars, milk fats or oils. Do look at the label though, as most supermarket cocoas add those ingredients. A good health food store will offer better choices.
Unfortunately, the chocolate we know today contains very little cocoa. Most are less than 40% and some as little as 26%! The rest is mostly added fat and sugar.
I’m on a mission to banish ‘chocolate’ from your shopping baskets and replace it with raw cacao. Whilst it’s not sweet like the readily available chocolate bars, I’m going to put plenty of recipes up on the blog containing cacao. They are all taste tested by me and are delicious.
There are so many proven benefits of cacao but here are a handful of my favourites, in case you need a little more convincing!
1. INCREASES HAPPINESS
Cacao contains the mood improver, anadamide – known as the bliss molecule, which creates a feeling of euphoria!
2. GETS YOU IN THE MOOD
Cacao contains PEA (phenethylamine), which triggers the release of endorphins and pleasurable opium-like neurochemicals. These are often released naturally when we fall in love or during sexual activity, and can improve libido.
3. REDUCES MOOD SWINGS
Cacao boosts levels of serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical. When women are experiencing PMS, serotonin levels drop dramatically. Cacao has been proven to boost the brain levels of calming hormones and restore feelings of wellbeing.
4. PROTECTS THE HEART
The flavanols found in cacao are an anti-inflammatory and a heart protective antioxidant. They also reduce the risk of stroke and help improve circulation.
5. HELPS PREVENT SIGNS OF PREMATURE AGEING
Certain antioxidants found in cacao protect our cells from premature oxidation (destruction) and can keep us looking and feeling younger longer.
6. BOOSTS YOUR ENERGY LEVELS NATURALLY
The minerals in cacao energise the body without overstimulating the nervous system.
7. PROTECTS YOUR BONES & BLOOD WITH MAGNESIUM
Cacao has a very high magnesium content which helps protect from osteoporosis, reduces risk of type II diabetes and lowers blood pressure.
If you’ve already made the switch to cacao, email me to share your favour cacao recipes and I’ll share them with the STPT community.